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Date Created: 04/19/16
Lecture April 5 th Chapter 12 White-Collar Crime Public Hood-Rats Public Corruption - Public corruption involves a breach of public trust and/or abuse of position by federal, state, or local officials and their private sector accomplices - A government official, whether elected, appointed or hired, violates federal law when he/she asks, demands, solicits, accepts, or agrees to receive anything of value in return for being influenced in the performance of their official duties - Public corruption conviction data from the U.S. Department of Justice shows the Chicago metropolitan region has been the most corrupt area in the country since 1976 - In addition, the data reveal that Illinois is the third most corrupt state in the nation - Since 1976, Illinois is surpassed only by: o California with 2345 convictions (65 per year) o New York with 2522 convictions (70 per year) - Rounding out the top then publicly corrupt states are (from most convictions to least) o Florida o Pennsylvania o Texas o Ohio o Washington D.C. o New Jersey o Louisiana - The Illinois Northern District, which contains the entire Chicago metropolitan area, accounted for 1531 of the 1828 public corruption convictions in Illinois - A distant second is California’s central district, headquartered in the City of Los Angeles. This district has had 1275 public corruption convictions since 1976 - Third with 1202 convictions is New York’s southern district, encompassing Manhattan, the Bronx, and a few nearby northern counties - Public corruption is not free. It costs the taxpayers of Illinois more than $500 million per year White Collar Hood-Rats Understanding White-Collar Crime - WCC – a non violent crime that is committed by someone, typically for financial gain - The typical white-collar criminal is an office worker, business manager, fund manager or executive - Sociologist Edwin Sutherland defined white-collard crime in 1939 as: o “A crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his/her occupation.” - Sutherland felt that criminologists fail to understand that violations of public and corporate trust by people in positions of authority are just as criminal as predatory acts committed by persons of lowed social status - Sutherland also pointed out that white-collar criminal hood rats are less likely to be investigated, arrested or prosecuted than other types of offenders, and if they do happen to be convicted, they are much less likely to be incarcerated - Sutherland emphasized the need to study the criminality of the upper- class Major White-Collar Crime Incidents - Financial scandals have a long history in the U.S. o Teapot Dome (1929) o Ivan Boesky – insider trading (1980s) o Michael Milken – securities fraud (1980s) o Savings and loan disaster (1980s) o Sham banking operations (1990s) - 21 century prosecutions o Enron Corporation o WorldCom, Inc. o Adelphia Comm o ImClone o Martha Stewart o Salomon Smith Barney and other securities firms o Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme Evolution of the White-Collar Hood-Rat Evolution of White-Collar Crime - The concept of white-collar crime has changed significantly with the emphasis today on the type of crime committed rather than on the social standing or occupational role of the person committing the crime - The US Justice Dept. has defined White-Collar Crime as having particular modus operandi, committed in a manner that utilizes deception and special knowledge of business practices, and committed in a particular kind of economic environment - Occupational crime has emerged as the popular catchall category and can be defined as: o Any act punishable by law that is committed through opportunity created during the course of a legal occupation - Gary Green developed a topology of occupational crime with four categories: o Organizational occupational crime: crime committed for the benefit of an employing organization o State authority occupational crime: crimes committed by officials through the exercise of their state-based authority - Professional occupational crime: crimes committed by professionals in their capacity as professionals - Individual occupational crime: crimes committed by individuals as individuals (personal income tax evasion, employee theft, falsifying expense reports) - All categories are still White-Collar Crime because they involve criminality - White-Collar Crimes result in more than $300 billion in annual losses to the American Economy Type of White-Collar Crimes Corporate Crime - Corporate crime and fraud o The violation of a criminal statute by a corporate entity or by its executives, employees, or agents acting on behalf of and for the benefit of the corporation o Accounting schemes, self-dealing by corporate executives, obstruction of justice, insider trading, kickbacks, misuse of corporate property for personal gain - Culpability is greatest when company officials can be shown to have had advance knowledge about o Defective product o Dangerous conditions o Illegal employee behavior - Securities and commodities fraud o Stock market manipulation, high-yield investment fraud, advance-fee fraud, hedge-fund fraud, commodities fraud, foreign exchange fraud, broker embezzlement - Antitrust violations o Activity that illegally inhibits competition between companies within an industry, such as price fixing and monopolies in restraint of trade - Tax Evasion o Fraud committed by filing false tax returns or not filing tax returns o Concealment of profits off-shore to avoid taxes Financial Crime - Money laundering o The process by which illegal gains/assets are disguised as legal income to conceal ownership - Insurance fraud o Inflating actual claims and fraudulent inducements to issue policies or establish a lower premium rate - Mass-marketing fraud o Fraud connected with communications media (telemarketing, mass mailings, Internet, etc.) - Health-care fraud o Particularly target Medicare and Medicaid but all health-care programs are subject to fraud o In 2011, 45 people in Miami, including a doctor and nurse were charged in a $159 million fraudulent Medicare billing scheme in the areas of home health care, mental health services, occupational and physical therapy, durable medical equipment and HIV infusion - Mortgage fraud o Involves material misstatements, misrepresentations, and/or omissions relating to the property or potential mortgage relied on by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan o As initial mortgage products are repackaged and sold on secondary markets, the process can conceal or distort the original g=fraud so that it is not reported Environmental Crimes - Violations of the criminal law, committed by businesses, business officials, organizational entitles, and individuals, that damage some protected or otherwise significant aspect of the natural environment such as: - Whaling - Over Fishing - Illegal Hunting - Intentional pollution – discharge of toxic substances Internet Crime Causal Factors Causes of White-Collar Crime - Sutherland applied elements of his own differential association theory to white-collar crime suggesting that white-collar crime like other systematic criminality, is learned - John Braithwaite suggests that white-collar criminals are motivated by a disparity between corporate goals and the limited opportunities for “financial gain” available through conventional business practices - Braithwaite also suggests that a general theory explaining both white- collar and other forms of crime can be developed by focusing on inequality as the central explanatory variable in criminal activity - Braithwaite identified greed as a motivating factor that can cause successful people to violate the law to acquire more power and wealth - The corporate culture socializes executives into modalities that make it easier for them to violate the law when pressured to perform - And the hostile relationship that often exists between business and government regulatory agencies further encourages executives to evade the law Controlling White-Collar Hood-Rats? Controlling White-Collar and Corporate Crime - It is common belief that white-collar crimes are difficult to investigate, prosecute, and convict for a number of reasons: o It is often difficult for prosecutors to show that a crime has actually occurred o White-collar criminals are generally better educated than other offenders and better able to conceal their crimes - Cases against white-collar criminals frequently have to be built on evidence of continuing series of offenses, rather than a single crime - The evidence involved in white-collar crimes is often only understood by financial or legal experts and is difficult to explain to jurors - Business executives can hire excellent defense attorney and tie up the courts with motions and appeals - One conclusion from this information is as long as professional occupational criminals continue to enjoy relative immunity from prosecution and from public scrutiny, they are not likely to be deterred by shaming, sanctions, or threats Organized (White-Collar) Crime Activities of Organized Crime - Five types of activity that qualify as organized crime: o Racketeering o Vice operations o Theft/fence rings o Gang related criminal acts o Terrorism - Primary and common motivation for all these activities is money - Racketeering – A pattern of illegal activity carried out as part of an enterprise that is owned or controlled by those who are engaged in the illegal activity Activities of Organized Crime - Gambling - Loan-sharking - Large-scale drug trafficking - Fencing - Infiltration of legitimate businesses - Labor union racketeering - Illegal copying and distribution of recorded media - Pornographic presentations and sex films Code of Conduct - Omerta: - The informal, unwritten code of organized crime, which demands silence and loyalty of family members - This concentrates power in the hand of crime bosses and ensures their protection. Key requirement: o Obey your superiors/the family o Keep silent Transnational Organized Crime - Transnational Organized Crime: o Unlawful activity undertaken and supported by organized criminal groups operating across national boundaries - TOC has become one of the most pressing challenges of twenty-first century law enforcement because it is a major force in world finance - The globalization of crime requires the coordination of law enforcement efforts around the world and global enforcement of financial regulations - To meet the U.S. threat posed by TOC, U.S. law enforcement activities will have to expand beyond national borders Policy Issues Policy Issues to Curtail White-Collar and Corporate Crime - Federal legislation o Sherman Act (1890) – prohibits certain business activities that reduce competition in the marketplace, and requires the United States federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of being in violation - Securities Act (1933) – in the aftermath of the stock market crash of and during the ensuing Great Depression - Legislated pursuant to the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, it requires hat any offer or sale of securities using the means and instrumentalities of interstate commerce be registered with the SEC (electronic devices used to do business, the mail, etc.) - Securities Exchange Act (1934) – Companies raise billions of dollars by issuing securities in what is known as the primary market - The Act regulates the secondary trading of those securities between persons often unrelated to the issuer, frequently through brokers or dealers - Trillions of dollars are made and lost each year through trading in the secondary market - Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) – As a result of the Act, top management must now individually certify the accuracy of financial information - In addition, penalties for fraudulent financial activity are much more severe - The Act increased the independence of outside auditors who review the accuracy of corporate financial statements, and increased the oversight role of boards of directors - James William Coleman’s, in his book The Criminal Elite: The Sociology of White-Collar Crime, suggested four areas or reform o Ethical – persuasive code of business ethics o Enforcement – better funding for enforcement agencies o Structural – change corporate structure to make WCC more difficult to commit o Political – eliminate campaign contributions from corporations and businesses
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